Bush Calls on Congress To Reauthorize PEPFAR Quickly During Trip to Tanzania
President Bush on Sunday during a trip to Tanzania called on Congress to quickly reauthorize the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the New York Times reports (Gay Stolberg, New York Times, 2/18). Bush and first lady Laura Bush are on a five-country tour of Africa in part to highlight programs funded by PEPFAR and the President's Malaria Initiative (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/15).
PEPFAR initially was authorized to direct $15 billion over five years for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis primarily to 15 focus countries. Bush in May 2007 called on Congress to increase this initial PEPFAR funding level to $30 billion for five years after the program's original mandate expires in September 2008 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/29). Bush on Sunday criticized Democratic-proposed changes to PEPFAR and urged lawmakers to "listen to leaders on the continent of Africa, analyze what works, stop the squabbling and get the program reauthorized." Bush added that he thinks the "current policy is reasonable" and that "it's working" (Loven, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 2/17).
PEPFAR is a "balanced program," Bush said, adding, "It is an ABC program: abstinence, be faithful and condoms. It's a program that's been proven effective." He said that it is in U.S. "national interest" to address HIV/AIDS and related problems in Africa.
Laura Bush in response to critics who have proposed reauthorizing PEPFAR at $50 billion said focus countries do not have the resources to handle that large of an amount efficiently, adding that "for budget reasons" the program "should stay at $30 billion" (Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times, 2/18). Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said that "[d]ifferent people may have different views about" Bush, his administration and his "legacy" but that the Bush administration has "been good friends of [Tanzania] and have been good friends of Africa."
Bush and Kikwete both declined to answer questions about the upcoming U.S. presidential election and the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is black and whose father is from Kenya. Kikwete said the "most important thing" for Tanzania regarding the next U.S. president is that he or she is a "good friend of Africa as President Bush has been" (Baker, Washington Post, 2/18).
Bush and Kikwete on Sunday signed a $698 million Millennium Challenge Account aid package to the country, which will be used for clean-water projects, hydropower development and to improve infrastructure, the Washington Times reports. Bush during the signing ceremony said Tanzania was receiving the grant, the largest awarded by the program to date, because the Tanzanian government is "committed to honest, decent government for the people" (Ward, Washington Times, 2/18).
After leaving Tanzania, the Bushes traveled to Rwanda, where Bush met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and was scheduled to visit an HIV/AIDS project (Charles/Asiimwe, Reuters, 2/19). The president and first lady also visited Benin during their trip, the Times reports (Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times, 2/17).
Several broadcast programs reported on the Bushes' trip to Africa. Summaries appear below.
- "Ask the White House": Laura Bush is scheduled to discuss the trip Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. ET in an "Ask the White House" online chat ("Ask the White House" Web site, 2/19). Questions can be submitted online before the chat. A transcript will be available online after the chat.
- ABC's "World News": The program on Sunday reported on Bush's popularity in Africa. The segment includes comments from Bush and Kikwete (Hendren, "World News," ABC, 2/17). Video of the segment and expanded ABC News coverage are available online.
- NBC's "Nightly News": The program on Sunday profiled Evelyn Katabizi, an HIV-positive girl in Uganda whose mother died of AIDS-related causes. The segment includes comments from Katabizi (Fletcher, "Nightly News," NBC, 2/17). Video of the segment is available online. On Monday, the program reported on a foster home in Uganda for AIDS orphans. The segment includes comments from Nolena Nemukeza, founder of the foster home, and Stephanie Robertson of the U.S. Peace Corps (Fletcher, "Nightly News," NBC, 2/18). Video of the segment is available online. Expanded NBC News coverage is available online.
- NBC's "Today": The segment includes a discussion with the Bushes about the trip and other topics (Curry, "Today," NBC, 2/18). Video of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "Morning Edition": The program on Monday reported on the Bushes' trip to Tanzania. The segment includes comments from U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Mike Dybul and Bush (Thompkins, "Morning Edition," NPR, 2/18). Audio of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday": The segment includes a discussion with Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, about PEPFAR (Simon, "Weekend Edition Saturday," NPR, 2/17). Audio of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday": The segment includes a discussion with NPR correspondent Gwen Thompkins about the Bushes' trip (Hansen, "Weekend Edition Sunday," NPR, 2/18). Audio of the segment is available online.